Mayoral candidate Craig Lord is vowing to fight for Pukekohe and Franklin - and by default the entire country - by putting a stop to future residential developments on elite growing soils.
Lord recently spent some time in the Franklin district to garner some of its needs and had a constructive meeting with members of the ‘Hira Bhana’ company, one of the country’s largest growers based in Pukekohe.
“The difficulties that growers have is not public knowledge, people just see price changes at the store and that’s all they know. But one of the issues I found is that Auckland Council has slowly been destroying one of New Zealand’s most prolific food growing regions thanks to their residential zoning decisions.”
“This is a major problem that our current Council is either oblivious to, or worse, they do know, but the lust for residential development and subsequent rates intake is blinding them to a substantial problem.”
“Pukekohe is renowned for its frost-free and all-year-round growing conditions and the current Government has made it more and more difficult to be productive with it’s ever increasing and nonsensical regulations. Given that the current Mayor is part of the Labour system you can see why Auckland Council has decided to walk on that path.”
Further compounding the issue is that any new housing generally brings ‘non-rural’ residents to live next door to the farms, where they soon start complaining, which in turn imposes economic burdens or operational limitations - a situation known as ‘reverse sensitivity’.
“Not only do we need to put an immediate halt to any further loss of New Zealand’s prime horticultural land in Pukekohe and Auckland as a whole, we also need to put in place systems to protect the growers and allow them to continue producing for us without hindrance.”
“Auckland Council has been slowly converting blocks of elite growing soil from rural to residential and if it keeps going this way we will soon have nowhere to grow food for the ever expanding population. This needs our immediate attention.”
The MP for the area, National’s Andrew Bayly, supports Lord’s stance.
“National has a policy in place to do exactly this. The Special Soils need protection and the reverse sensitivity needs to stop. If Craig is willing to fight for that on Pukekohe’s behalf from inside Auckland Council then he has my full support” says Bayly.
“Once the land is converted from elite growing soil to housing it’s gone forever” says Lord, “It’s our duty to protect it, and this is especially so for the highly productive land at Pukekohe. I understand we need housing, but we also need food, therefore subdivisions should only happen in appropriate places.”
“We are all temporary custodians of this land, and if the public and elected officials are serious about protection for ourselves and our future generations then this is something we need to make a stand on. I would be shocked if any Councillor would vote against this policy.”